Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Patrick Biddix

Committee Members

Dorian McCoy, Michael Lane Morris, Gary Skolits


This narrative study examines the experiences of Dr. George Wright, a successful African American college president. Dr. Wright had 14-year career at the helm of Prairie View A&M University, an Historically Black College or University (HBCU), where he changed the trajectory of the institution. His story begins with seminal experiences in the segregated schools of Lexington, Kentucky and continues to Duke University, where he became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in History. In this study, Dr. Wright relates critical moments in his childhood, educational, and career experiences that put him on a path to success. This narrative is a message of hope, redemption, and possibility with important lessons about overcoming significant obstacles to reach the pinnacle of higher education leadership. Several lessons emerge from Dr. Wright’s narrative when considered alongside the theory and literature on leadership. These include a focus on mentoring, the importance of relationships, and recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities. Each aided in Dr. Wright’s success and were foundational pillars for his presidency. Findings and insights from this study are offered as recommendations for developing and sustaining a successful career as an African American college president.

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